Types Of Gutter Guards: A Guide to Keeping Your Gutters Clean - Backyard Boss
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

Types Of Gutter Guards: A Guide to Keeping Your Gutters Clean

Keeping your gutters clean of debris is one of those necessary evils that accompany home-ownership. Not only does it save you time and money by keeping to a cleaning schedule it also helps you avoid any serious problems down the road. Clogged gutters can back up water and place unneeded stress along your roof edges. It also can freeze, creating ice dams that can work their way up under roofing materials to create leaks and other unsightly and dangerous situations.

Unfortunately, keeping your gutters clean is, well, a pain to put it bluntly. Climbing up and down ladders, reaching, and pulling can also be dangerous. This is why you should seriously consider placing gutter guards in your gutters. The best gutter guards are the ones that fit your existing gutters, are within your budget, and work for your specific climate needs to keep them relatively free of debris.

    Our Top Choice - LeafFilter

cross section of a LeafFilter gutter guard covering a gutter with water running through
    LeafFilter is a premium mesh filter gutter guard. It is low-maintenance and durable. LeafFilter employs professional installers who will clean and align your gutters prior to being installed, which is super important for gutter guards to last. It's one of the most durable products on the market comprised of stainless steel. It's also backed by a transferable lifetime warranty. To top it off we have a 10% discount link below.

The Different Types of Gutter Guards

Basically, there are five primary categories of guards available: brush, foam, mesh, perforated, and surface tension or reverse curve. Each one is very effective in its own way, but not all of them will necessarily work with your particular existing gutters. That is why you need to understand how each one works.

Let’s take a closer look at all the different types below.


A gutxter brush placed in the gutter with dried leaves on top of the gutter brush

Brush guards are made of heavy bristles shaped like a “bottle-brush” and are placed within the gutter themselves to block accumulations of larger debris. Water and small, accumulated debris are allowed to pass freely through them, while large debris blows away or is easy to remove by hand if accumulation is seen. These also help keep snow from compacting into the gutters and allow them to melt and runoff.

Installation Process

You could pay somebody to place these in your gutter, but they are seriously easy to install on your own. Simply measure, cut, and place the correct lengths directly in the gutter. If a length is too long it can be folded over or snipped off.

Life Expectancy

These are not necessarily a long term solution as overtime debris may begin to crust upon the bristles, making them ineffective to water flow. They are designed to last around five years under heavy use and proper care. Cleaning them good once or twice per year, and removing them during the winter can increase their life.




Porous foam polyurethane blocks are set directly into the gutter. The small opening allows water to flow freely through it and along the gutter. Debris is kept out of the gutter and collects along the top to blow away once dried, or for easy removal when a build-up occurs. This also keeps snow from accumulating into the gutter and allows it to melt and flow through as it warms. Not to mention, these are often considered as one of the best gutter guards for pine needles.

Installation Process

Strips of foam are easy to set into the gutter without much effort. All you need to do is measure your gutters and then cut the foam strips accordingly. Climb back up your ladder, and slip them into the gutters. Make sure you clean the gutters first though!

Life Expectancy

These are a fairly temporary solution that may not work as well in winter and need to be removed before reapplication in the spring. Over time they also may dry out and become brittle, making them a good solution for around two to three years max.




Contractor adjusting plastic gutter guards to get them to fit.

These guards are typically a sheet of metal or PVC with diamond or square-shaped perforations that fit under the shingles and cover the gutter. As water and debris flow down the roof, water is able to pass through to the gutter, while leaves, needles, and other debris are caught along the top to blow away when dried. They are easy to clean when accumulations occur as well.

Installation Process

Although you can have these professionally installed, they are very easy to self-install as well. You just need to be sure to slide them under the shingles without lifting and creating damage. At any rate, they will almost surely void your warranty that came with your roof shingles.

Life Expectancy

These are designed to last for many years as long as they are maintained. The materials they are made out of are weather friendly, but aluminum will provide a longer life span compared to PVC, which may eventually become brittle. Keeping them cleaned properly is a must if you want them to last as long as they are intended to.



Mesh Screens

Mesh-screens are made of superfine metal mesh guards that keep debris from running into the gutter and prevent shingle granule runoff from entering the gutter as well. These are designed to fit snug over the gutter and tight against the edge of the roof and provide easy access to clean the tops if accumulation occurs. Even more, if you have asphalt type shingles, like most of us, it is worth noting that mesh guards are one of the best gutter guard styles for blocking tiny particles. Also, micro-mesh gutter guards are available for even finer protection.

Installation Process

Typically needs to be professionally installed through a dealer of the product. They must be set properly over your gutter to avoid gaps, bending, and a loose fit.

Life Expectancy

These are designed to last a lifetime with proper cleaning and maintenance care, but can easily erode and rust when not cared for properly. A quick cleaning once or twice a year can extend their life span a great deal.



Reverse-Curve (also known as surface tension gutter guards)

This design has been around for a long time to help keep gutters relatively debris free. These metal curves cover fit up under your shingles and then curve over and downwards over the gutter. Water follows this curve to run through the gutter, while leaves and debris flow straight off the edge. The design deflects more large debris than most and keeps critters from entering the gutter as well to build nests. Snow is also able to easily flow off the guard.

Installation Process

These are typically purchased by an authorized dealer and require professional installment. Some DIY options may exist, but may not last as long or pull away from the roof if not properly secured.

Life Expectancy

These are designed to last a long time with proper installation and the occasional cleanout of debris that may work its way in and not wash out. But, of course, an annual or bi-annual cleaning goes a long way in increasing their life.



Buying Guide Considerations

With the explanation of the types of guards you may purchase above, you will want to take into consideration a few more crucial details before committing to one certain type. Take into account the following to help you choose which would be best for you.

House Location

Extremely colorful classic restored house with beautiful landscaping in a rural city.

Where is your house located? Is it out in the open and away from heavy leaf and needle debris? Or is it under heavy timber? The type of debris that is likely to fall upon your house and wash into your gutters should be a major detail to consider. In addition, consider how close you are to neighbors, and more importantly their trees and flowerbeds.


Are you in a relatively dry climate that receives little to no rainfall, or are you living where you have steady, year-round moisture? Are your rainstorms heavy, or moderate and consistent? Do you get a lot of snow, or is it cold for long periods of time? Choose guards that can properly handle the climate and weather you receive.

Length to be Laid

How long are the gutters you need to cover? If you have a budget, this factor may already determine the types of guards you should choose based on what you can afford. At any rate, you should definitely know the exact length of your gutters before deciding on and purchasing any one type of guard.

Vertical Rise

Large suburban home with front porch and arched entry

Do you have a second story? Or even a third-floor? Gutter guards require much less maintenance if you don’t have one. This is due to the extra length each story of your home may add to your gutter system’s overall size. But, they will still require some annual care regardless of whether you have a one-, two-, or three-story house. Think about what type will be most effective for your home and avoid having to perform more care for them than you absolutely need to, especially if you have multiple stories.

Installation Options

If you are a DIY type person, you may want to look at those options that are easy to install on your own. Just remember they are not often as long-lasting as those that are professionally installed. But, that is not always the case. Many guards are built specifically with easy installation in mind and hiring a professional is not necessary.

Gutter Guards vs. Leaf-Guards

If you are having trouble making your mind up about gutter guards at this point, perhaps you would do better researching and investing in Leaf Guards instead. Leaf-Guards are an all-original gutter guard type that features an innovative curved gutter cover hood design. Leaf Guards allow water to flow freely but sheds and deflects a higher rate of debris than most gutter guards. These gutter covers are also thought to reduce annual maintenance of your gutter system as well.

Roof Shingle Warranty

One last consideration that is extremely important to not overlook is whether or not the gutter guard you are going to install requires being anchored or inserted underneath the bottom edge of the shingles of your roof. If so, this will more than likely void your current roof warranty and is something you should pay extra attention to. That said, if the shingles on your roof are more than 25 or 30 years old, their warranty may already be expired. If your home is equipped with premium dimensional shingles, however, you may want to avoid certain types of gutter guards because your shingles probably have a lifetime warranty.

Gutter Guard FAQs

Hopefully, our guide has answered most of what you wanted to know about gutter guards, but, we included a few of the most frequently asked questions just in case you still have a question or two.

Do Any Gutter Guards Really Work?

Yes, most gutter guards will work. The real question is, which type is best for you and your existing gutter system. With the above information, you should have no problems determining which is best for you and your home.

Which Type of Gutter Guard Is Best?

The gutter guard type that works best for you depends on the type of gutters you have, whether you still have a roof warranty, the climate and debris you’re dealing with, and your budget. That said, if we have reviewed and recommended a type of gutter guard then it’s one of the very best!

How Much Money Should I Pay for Gutter Guards?

The amount of money you will spend on gutter guards depends on which type you get. Depending on the quality, style, and length, you can expect to pay between $0.25 to over $5.00 per foot. That means you may pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars or more. There is also the cost of installation to consider.

How Long Do Gutter Guards Last?

All of the various gutter guard types have their own life expectancies, which we’ve listed in their respective section above. In short, they may last as little as two or three years for less expensive types and as much as a couple of decades, even a lifetime, for the premium ones.

Picking the Right Gutter Guards for Your House

If you have been contemplating gutter guards then this is the guide to help steer you in the right direction. There are a few tried and true styles from which you can choose, no matter what your budget is. Of course, you always need to take into account your specifics, including relation to house location and climate, but you still have multiple gutter guard styles to pick from at the end of the day.

All in all, gutter guard systems are a great way to save on maintenance time and money over time and are well worth the investment.